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HIS3212 : Reconstruction and the New South, 1865-1900

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Bruce Baker
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The American Civil War brought the slave society of the South to an end and raised questions that would take half a century, and more, to answer: how could those who controlled the land continue to produce cotton and other export staples in a labour regime that was based on race but without the compulsions of slavery? How could former slaves find a place in new social and political systems? What effects would the integration of the region into national economic structures have on the lives of its inhabitants? This course examines these questions, studying the rise and fall of African American political power during Reconstruction, the changes in agriculture and the rise of industrialisation, racial violence and the origins of the segregation and disfranchisement of African Americans, and the fate of Progressive Era reform in the South. We will use a wide range of primary source material, including published works, manuscript collections, newspapers, and government records, most available in digital form.

This course is intended:

•To familiarise students with the historiographical literature relating to the American South between the Civil War and World War I
•To introduce students to historical research and to guide them in the analysis of primary documents and texts.
•Thereby to enable students to develop their own interpretation of the period.
•To provide an opportunity of investigating in some depth selected problems, including the appraisal
of selected source material and the critical examination of current historiography.
•To provide an opportunity to acquire a sound general knowledge of the subject, reading widely and
critically in the primary and secondary literature associated with it and to develop the capacity for independent study.

Outline Of Syllabus

The following is a guide only. Actual subjects may differ from those listed.

Civil War and the Collapse of Slavery
The Failure of Land Reform
The Death of Reconstruction
King Cotton
The New South
Lynching and Violence
Agrarian Protest

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion561:0056:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading561:0056:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching113:0033:00seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study551:0055:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Seminars encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral communication, problem solving skills and adaptability. The final seminar will be run partly as a workshop to discuss the essay and work on it in a group setting, promoting collaborative work and group communication.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A802000 words
Portfolio1M20Weekly assignment for 10 weeks of the semester to find a primary source related to that week's topic, write a brief paragraph (about 200 words) about it, and bring the source and paragraph to the seminar as the basis for discussion. Each of the 10 items in the portfolio is worth 2%.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation1MOral presentation about the topic chosen for the essay.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The oral presentation allows the students the opportunity to explore the materials and arguments they will present in their essay and receive formative feedback from both the instructor and their peers.

The essay will test the ability to research, develop, and communicate an argument about a particular subject. This calls for both general knowledge and a detailed understanding of sources relating to the course topics.

The weekly portfolio helps the student learn to find, idenitfy, and analyze releavant primary sources and also feeds directly into the seminar discussion. For more information on the portfolio assignment, please see this case study :

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress.

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.

Reading Lists